Tanning has gained immense popularity among people of all ages, particularly during the summer season. Most people know about the general hazards linked with tanning, but there are some unexpected facts that might make you run from the tanning bed. We’ll cover 4 of them below.
1. Tanning is linked to an increased risk of skin cancer in teens.
You may have heard that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds can cause DNA damage in skin cells, which can lead to the development of skin cancer. But did you know how high the risk is for teens?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), when you use a tanning bed at 19 or younger, you increase your risk of melanoma by 47%. Melanoma is the deadliest form of cancer, and every time you get in that booth, the risk goes up.
2. Tanning can be addictive.
I’d bet that you didn’t know that tanning can be addictive. Research conducted by the AAD, suggests that around 20% of women who use indoor tanning beds become addicted. And that’s addicted to tanning, not being tan.
Researchers think that the reason behind this is because the brain releases endorphins. Endorphins produce a sensation of pleasure and reward in the brain, which can lead to an urge to continue tanning to feel that euphoria.
But that’s not the only thing your brain is releasing. Tanning also triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to pleasure and reward, intensifying the addiction. The combination of endorphins and dopamine can create a pleasure cycle around tanning that’s difficult to escape.
3. Tanning can make you look old for your age.
Most people are aware that tanning can cause skin cancer, but it can also lead to premature aging. Tanning breaks down collagen, a protein that gives the skin its elasticity. When collagen is damaged your skin loses elasticity meaning that your skin can’t bounce back or hold itself in place as well, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin.
That beautifully bronzed skin isn’t going to last. Beyond damaging the collagen in your skin tanning can cause hyperpigmentation. This means patches of skin will appear darker than the surrounding skin.
Freckles are the most common example of hyperpigmentation that results from tanning but can also result in melasma.
4. Tanning can cause eye damage.
It is easy to overlook the fact that tanning can also harm your eyes. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, emitted by the sun and tanning beds, can cause photokeratitis, which is essentially a sunburn of the eye.
Think of how painful a regular sunburn can be on your skin—now imagine that in your eye. The longer your eyes absorb UV radiation, the more painful photokeratitis can be.
Indoor tanning also increases the risk of cataracts, which clouds the eye’s lens. The result is often vision loss that requires corrective surgery.